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China Moves to Create Jobs
Experts and officials have warned that unless more comprehensive measures are taken to create jobs, the country's unemployment rate could top government targets.

They said the country's jobless rate is actually higher than the official figure of about 4 percent for 2002.

The government has vowed to keep its registered unemployment rate below 4.5 percent this year and create 9.5 million jobs.

But Li Peilin, vice-president of the Sociology Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the official figure just counted those jobless registered in urban areas. The Ministry of Labor and Social Security said China has about 7.5 million registered unemployed in cities.

However, China still has about 10 million laid-off workers who remain on labor contracts with their employers under government-brokered arrangements.

"It is true that many of them can find jobs, but the possibilities have gradually dimmed in recent years," vice-minister of Labor and Social Security Zhang Xiaojian told China Daily recently.

Zhang said in 1998, more than half the laid-off workers found new jobs but last year, only 9 percent were re-employed.

In addition, Li said official statistics do not count the 120-150 million surplus rural laborers, many of whom hold temporary jobs in cities, or the 700,000 idle college graduates.

Vice-minister Zhang Xiaojian admitted that the statistical methods the Chinese Government adopted differed from international practice.

"The jobless rate in fact only reflects China's employment situation in urban areas," said Zhang.

Zhang expressed "serious concern" about employment in China with the population rising to more than 1.29 billion.

He urged labor and social security departments at all levels to consider labor markets in their local economic and social development plans, with the aim of expanding employment.

"China has a huge work force, with about 60 percent of laborers in rural areas, but the unemployment problems are evident and urgent," Zhang said.

A report from the World Bank indicated that China's labor force accounted for 26 percent of the world's total but its natural and capital resources were less than 10 percent of the total.

Zhang said the supply of labor will greatly overtake demand in the years ahead.

But Zhang said job prospects in China are still encouraging in the long run.

The jobless will have access to more convenient services, receiving training or unemployment benefits with less hassle.

(China Daily February 12, 2003)

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